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01.12.2018 | Study protocol | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Trials 1/2018

Individualised short-term therapy for adolescents impaired by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder despite previous routine care treatment (ESCAadol)—Study protocol of a randomised controlled trial within the consortium ESCAlife

Trials > Ausgabe 1/2018
Julia Geissler, Thomas Jans, Tobias Banaschewski, Katja Becker, Tobias Renner, Daniel Brandeis, Manfred Döpfner, Christina Dose, Christopher Hautmann, Martin Holtmann, Carolin Jenkner, Sabina Millenet, Marcel Romanos
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13063-018-2635-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Despite the high persistence rate of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) throughout the lifespan, there is a considerable gap in knowledge regarding effective treatment strategies for adolescents with ADHD. This group in particular often shows substantial psychosocial impairment, low compliance and insufficient response to psychopharmacological interventions. Effective and feasible treatments should further consider the developmental shift in ADHD symptoms, comorbidity and psychosocial adversity as well as family dysfunction. Thus, individualised interventions for adolescent ADHD should comprise a multimodal treatment strategy. The randomised controlled ESCAadol study addresses the needs of this patient group and compares the outcome of short-term cognitive behavioural therapy with parent-based telephone-assisted self-help.


In step 1, 160 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years with a diagnosis of ADHD will undergo a treatment as usual (TAU) observation phase of 1 month. In step 2, those still severely affected are randomised to the intervention group with an Individualised Modular Treatment Programme (IMTP) or a telephone-assisted self-help programme for parents (TASH) as an active control condition. The IMTP was specifically designed for the needs of adolescent ADHD. It comprises 10 sessions of individual cognitive behavioural therapy with the adolescents and/or the parents, for which participants choose three out of 10 available focus modules (e.g. organisational skills and planning, emotion regulation, problem solving and stress management, dysfunctional family communication). TASH combines a bibliotherapeutic component with 10 counselling sessions for the parents via telephone. Primary outcome is the change in ADHD symptoms in a clinician-rated diagnostic interview. Outcomes are assessed at inclusion into the study, after the TAU phase, after the intervention phase and after a further 12-week follow-up period. The primary statistical analysis will be by intention-to-treat, using linear regression models. Additionally, we will analyse psychometric and biological predictors and moderators of treatment response.


ESCAadol compares two short-term non-pharmacological interventions as cost-efficient and feasible treatment options for adolescent ADHD, addressing the specific needs and obstacles to treatment success in this group. We aim to contribute to personalised medicine for adolescent ADHD intended to be implemented in routine clinical care.
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